TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Ben Jemison
Tuesday, Dec 30, 2014 03:07pm
By Aaron Waldron
By Aaron Waldron
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
As the IFMAR Electric Off-Road Worlds in 2013 were the first to be held in the U.S. in a decade, many of the country's biggest off-road races experienced a higher-than-usual turnout from European drivers - and the Reedy Race that year was the first time I remember meeting Ben Jemison. The always-smiling Brit can not only get it done on the track, but his personality makes him a favorite in the pit area as well - especially when he makes incredible Formula One engine noises using an aluminum can (unfortunately, Facebook wouldn't let me embed the video). Ben was in the news this week as it was announced that he was leaving long-time sponsor CML, for whom he drove Team Associated cars, and will return to Schumacher. I shot Ben a Facebook message to congratulate him on the new deal, and ended up with this interview.
Aaron Waldron: How did you get started in radio control, and how long have you been racing?
Ben Jemison: I started out in RC after a friend who I rode bikes with mentioned that he was going to race RC cars one Saturday evening, so my dad took me to watch for a few weeks then I got a car. I was 10 years old at the time.
AW: When did you decide to take RC racing more seriously?
BJ: I think it's one of those things that just happens over time. After a few years of racing at my local I club, I started attending regional events and Nationals, and started to spend a lot more time practicing and traveling to different tracks to race.
Once I started getting some better results, I realized I wanted to stick at it.
AW: How long did it take for you to start attracting sponsors?
BJ: It took around 2 weeks after I started racing. Mainly because I was breaking parts all the time and my Dad had to become my first sponsor... On a more serious note once my results started to improve at nationals, I got a couple of shop drives and ran for Schumacher for a short period then joined CML for 5 years.
AW: What do you do for work? Does your schedule interfere with your racing schedule?
BJ: I work with my parents repairing and refurbishing car alloy wheels. Aside from the wheels, there's normally a rally car being built. Normally I race on a weekend so there isn't much of an issue with work getting in the way of RC. My Dad is pretty good for letting me have the time off to go racing at week-long events like the Euros - maybe he just likes the peace and quiet for a week!
AW: Of what races are you most proud?
BJ: My most memorable days racing would be in 2008 when I won the 4wd juniors race using Chris Doughty's Atomic Carbon S44 and his dad came to pit for me. I won the 2014 2wd oOple Invernational after being followed by Cragg for 5 minutes, which put me under a lot of pressure!
AW: Who are some of the people that have helped you the most in RC?
BJ: There's so many people that have helped. I have found this hobby to be full of helpful people. To name a few: Paul Bradby, Mick and Neil Cragg, Tom Cockerill, Lee Martin.
AW: What is your favorite track? What about your favorite racing class?
BJ: My favourite track has to be Robin Hood Raceway. I helped build both the clay and the Astro track, so I have spent a lot of time there. My favourite racing class would be 2WD on clay.
AW: Congratulations on your new deal with Schumacher - how did that happen?
BJ: It all happened quite fast in all honesty. I was approached by Mark Musgrove from Schumacher racing, and we had a long chat over the phone about the cars and what he could offer and I decided I wanted a change so went for it.
AW: Was it a difficult decision to leave Team Associated after five years?
BJ: It was a difficult decision to leave CML (Note: Team Associated distributor) because they've been a great company to race for, and I've had to part company with the Craggs.
AW: Did you talk to any other teams about racing for them in 2015? Will any of your other sponsors change?
BJ: I looked at the Yokomo cars but decided on Schumacher. I will still be representing Schelle, Reedy and Bandicoot Bodies for 2015. (Note: Jemison’s Reedy contract expected to be official in the coming days.)
AW: As a UK racer with experience on astroturf, what do you think about all of the hype swirling IFMAR’s decision to allow the Worlds to be held on the artificial surface?
BJ: It was only a matter of time before the rule change happened. In my opinion, it's for the better. It opens up the options for other tracks to race on at a higher level. I would prefer to race on clay given the choice, but it's going to be the same track for everyone in Japan and I'm sure the top guys will still rise to the top. In England, our climate doesn't allow for clay tracks to be used throughout the year. A few people have tried to create indoor facilities with clay tracks but we just don't have the number of regular drivers that can commit to racing 2-3 times a week.
AW: Now that you’ve visited a few tracks here in the States, what do you think are the biggest differences between the U.S. and European racing scenes?
BJ: The biggest thing I've noticed is the amount of permanent facilities in the U.S and the amount of time racers put into practicing and testing. Drivers practicing on a permanent track mid week is virtually unheard of in the UK.
AW: What’s your favorite part of RC racing?
BJ: My favourite part of racing so far has been traveling the world and meeting new people from different countries.
AW: What about RC racing annoys or bothers you?
BJ: Getting up mega early! I'm ok once I get to the track though!
AW: Do you have any big goals for your RC career?
BJ: I would really like to make a European and Worlds A final and possibly win a National.
AW: Why did you start collecting body shells from other drivers? How many are you up to?
BJ: I think I got a Neil Cragg body and a couple of others just to hang on my wall, then it escalated... I have just short of 50 bodies now.
AW: Thank you for the interview! Is there anything else you would like to add?
BJ: A huge thanks to Mark Musgrove and Robin Schumacher from Schumacher Racing for giving me the opportunity to race for them in 2015!